Coming from engineering backgrounds, many faculty engaged with KEEN are entrepreneurial around their teaching and research, trying new approaches that meet student needs. When creating course-related experiences for students to develop EM and encouraging them to understand opportunity and impact, Rust found these were good lessons for himself as well.
“I learned to be curious and to make fifty calls to potential customers to discuss our technology. We’d made assumptions that we knew what we were doing, but there’s no substitute for talking to a customer and hearing what they liked and didn’t like. We were thinking of all folks with diabetes as one market, and it wasn’t until we spoke to customers that we realized there were distinct groups within the market.”
Rust’s experience has improved his ability to teach EM concepts to his students. “Before this experience, I thought I understood product development, but now I have a much better understanding of the steps and financing behind products. I understand that world a whole lot better. Now when I do a class project, I frame it in a real-world context for my students, modeling it after my experience. It is much more authentic; and the students feel this is more than a class.
“EM and KEEN are not about starting a venture. But this learning experience has made me more confident about anything else I’ve ever wanted to do. I think that’s what we all, as faculty, want for our students.”